An update from Karen, a sophomore majoring in anthropology and religious studies:

This semester I am taking a Latino Religions course taught by Professor Jill DeTemple. In this course, my class is evaluating what makes up the religious identity of the Latino population and how Latinos utilize their public and privates spheres to channel or practice their faiths. Thus, we must look at how social, political, and cultural movements have shaped the religiosity of Latino communities.

By applying what we learned in class to our service learning project, my peers and I plan to do the following things. We will document the history of the Jubilee Park Community Center and analyze the outcomes of the center’s programs. We will also examine the economic, social, and cultural makeup of the surrounding predominantly Latino community. Most important, we will focus on how all of these components affect Latino religious identity and the Social Gospel movement in Dallas. With the amount of research my class has to do to complete this task, my peers have been divided into three groups.

My group (Amanda, Tracy, and Garrett) is focusing on Jubilee Park Community Center’s status today. For our research, we have only interviewed senior residents and board members of the community center.  To understand the role Jubilee Park center has on the neighborhood today, my group must interview residents of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and faiths. We must also talk to the people who sponsor the community center and other neighborhood renovations.

Although my peers and I have much to do, we have gained valuable information from our research. We have gathered from interviews that Jubilee Park residents see the community center as an institution that provides social services to the neighborhood. Because of this general consensus, my group is focused on how the center’s position has affected the role local churches have in their members’  lives. Did these churches provide these same services prior to the construction of the center? If so, do these churches still provide those services?

As I continue to research, I have become more interested in studying the relationship of the center with local institutions and their services. I have also realized this research is important for a couple of reasons. The information provides an understanding of how the board of executives of the community center can help accommodate or improve services they provide. The information is also vital for my classmates and me to understand how faith is an integral component of every aspect of life, whether we want to believe it or not.